Congress leader Jitin Prasada joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday, in a shot in the arm for the saffron party as it prepares for assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh scheduled for early next year.
He joined the BJP in presence of Union minister Piyush Goyal and its chief spokesperson Anil Baluni.
The 47-year-old Prasada, a former Union minister, comes from a well known Brahmin family of Uttar Pradesh and was serving as the Congress leader in-charge of West Bengal before joining the BJP.
His father Jitendra Prasada was a noted Congress leader.
Meanwhile, Chhattisgarh Congress 'thanked' Prasada for leaving the Congress party. "Thank you to Jitin Prasada ji for leaving the Congress party," read the tweet in Hindi.
While the BJP leaders are welcoming him with open arms, the Congress party has sunk into despair.
UPCC president Ajay Kumar Lallu termed Jitin Prasada as a 'betrayer'. "In the Congress, he became a member of parliament and then a minister. He was recently made in-charge of West Bengal during elections. The Congress has given him so much but what has he done in return?" he asked. Lallu said that Jitin Prasada's departure would not make any difference to the party which runs on ideology. "People come and go but the party goes on," he said.
Milind Deora said the Congress must reclaim its position as India's big tent party and asserted that it still has a strong bench which, if empowered and optimally utilised, can deliver. A former chief of the Mumbai Congress, Deora, however, wished that several of his friends, peers and valued colleagues hadn't left the party.
For the uninitiated, Deora, Prasada, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot were once considered as the young brigade of the Congress. They had also served in the erstwhile Congress government at the Centre. Scindia and Prasada have left for the BJP, while Pilot and Deora seem to be upset over certain issues in the party and have repeatedly called for course correction.
(With PTI inputs)